Elorza on bike lane removal: ‘Hindsight is 20/20’


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the city prepares to remove a two-way bike lane from Eaton Street, Mayor Jorge Elorza admits that it is too narrow for the early stages of the project.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” Elorza said. “Given the response from the community, the right thing to do is to pull back.”

The bike lane was installed as part of the city’s Great Streets Initiative. The city held a series of neighborhood meetings to compile the plan, which aims to alleviate traffic, address safety concerns and encourage other modes of transportation throughout the city.

After receiving feedback from Eaton Street residents, city officials ultimately decided to remove the bike path by the end of fall 2019.

When all is said and done, the installation and removal of the bike lane combined cost the city $127,000.

Elorza tells Eyewitness News he believes Eaton Street wasn’t an appropriate starting point to begin adding bike lanes.

“It’s just too narrow of a street to start off with that project,” he said.

He said the city decided to start with Eaton Street because it was already being repaved and restriped.

Councilman David Salvatore, D-Ward 14, said the city significantly narrowed the road and removed several parking spaces to make room for the bike lane.

Salvatore said while residents are for safe biking options, they don’t want their quality of life impacted.

With the Eaton Street bike lane being removed, Elorza said the city will now focus on installing them on wider streets.

He also said before bike lanes can be added to narrower streets, the city needs to foster a biking culture.

“We’ve got to get people used to it and create this bike culture, so we’re going to work on some wider streets,” Elorza said. “I’ve driven in other countries, London, for example, they have really narrow streets, but they have a culture that’s used to bike lanes and bike traffic. It was the wrong street for us to start on.”

Elorza said the bike lanes will help ease traffic congestion and would reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

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